MoboReader> Literature > The Story of Ireland

   Chapter 37 CIVIL WAR.

The Story of Ireland By Emily Lawless Characters: 9248

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


The passionate excitement which the news of the Ulster massacre had awakened in England seems to have deepened, rather than diminished, as time went on, and the details became more known. Nothing that has happened within living memory can be even approximately compared to it, though, perhaps, those who are old enough to remember the sensations awakened by the news of the Indian Mutiny will be able most nearly to realize the wrath and passionate desire of revenge which filled every Protestant breast. That the circumstances of the case were not taken into consideration was almost inevitable. Looking back with calmer vision--though even now a good deal of fog and misconception seems to prevail upon the subject--we can see that some such outbreak was all but inevitable; might have been, indeed ought to have been, foreseen. A wildly-excitable population driven from the land which they and their fathers had held from time immemorial, confined to a narrow and, for the most part, a worthless tract; seeing others in possession of these "fat lands" which they still regarded as their own--exiled to make room for planters of another race and another faith--what, in the name of sense or reason, was to be expected except what happened? That the very instant protection was withdrawn the hour for retribution would be felt to have struck. The unhappy Protestant colonists were absolutely guiltless in the matter. They were simply the victims, as the earlier proprietors had been the victims before them. The wrongs that had been wrought thirty years earlier by Sir John Davis and the Dublin lawyers had been wiped out in their unoffending blood.

This point is so important to realize, and the whole rising has so often been described as a purely religious and fanatical one, that it is worth dwelling upon it a minute or two longer. It was a rising, unquestionably, of a native Roman Catholic community against an introduced Protestant one, and the religious element, no doubt, counted for something--though it is not easy to say for how much--in the matter. In any case it was the smallest least vital part of the long gathered fury which resulted in that deed of vengeance. The rising was essentially an agrarian one--as almost every Irish rising has been before and since--and the fact that the two rival creeds found themselves face to face was little more than a very unfortunate accident. Could the plantations of James the First's time have been formed exclusively of English or Scotch Roman Catholics, we have no reason, and certainly no right to conclude that the event would have been in any way different, or that the number of those slaughtered would have been reduced by even a single victim.

It was not, however, to be expected that the English Protestants of that day would realize this. It is not always fully realized even yet. The heat awakened by that ruthless slaughter, that merciless driving away of hundreds of innocent women and children, the natural pity for the youth and helplessness of many of the victims has lasted down to our own time. Even to us the outrage is a thousand-fold more vivid than the provocation which led to it. How much more then to the English Protestants of that day? To them it was simply a new massacre of St. Bartholomew; an atrocity which the very amplest and bloodiest vengeance would still come far short of expiating.

It is easy to see that any negotiation with those implicated in a deed which had produced so widespread a feeling of horror was a proceeding fraught with peril to the royal cause. Anger does not discriminate, and to the Protestants of England, North and South, old Irish, and Anglo-Irish, honourable gentlemen of the Pale, and red-handed rebels of Ulster, were all alike guilty. Nor was this Charles's only difficulty. The Confederates declined to abate a jot of their terms. The free exercise of the Catholic religion, an independent Irish parliament, a general pardon, and a reversal of all attainders were amongst their conditions, and they would not take less. These Ormond dared not agree to. Had he done so every Protestant in Ireland, down to his own soldiery, would have gone over in a body to the Parliament. He offered what he dared, but the Irish leaders would listen to no compromise. They knew the imminence of the situation as well as he did, and every fresh royal defeat, the news of which reached Ireland, only made them stand out the firmer.

Charles cut the knot in his own fashion. Tired of Ormond's discretion and Ormond's inconvenient sense of honour, he secretly sent over Edward Somerset, Earl of Glamorgan, to

make terms with the Confederates, who, excited at finding themselves the last hope and mainstay of an embarrassed king stood out for higher and higher conditions. The Plantation lands were to be given back: full and free pardon was to be granted to all; Mass was to be said in all the churches. To these terms and everything else required, Glamorgan agreed, and the Confederates, thereupon, agreed to despatch a large force, when called upon to do so, to England, and in the meantime to make sham terms with Ormond, keeping him in the dark as to this secret compact.

It was not long a secret Ormond seems to have had some suspicions of it from the beginning, and an incident which presently occurred made suspicion certainty. The town of Sligo had been captured by the parliamentary troops under Coote, and in October, 1645, an attempt was made to recapture it by a party of Irish under a fighting prelate, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam. In the struggle which ensued the Archbishop was killed, and upon his body was found a copy of the secret treaty which was straightway despatched by Coote to London.

It awakened a sensation hardly less than that with which the news of the massacre itself had been received. It was tie one thing still wanting to damage the royal cause. Charles, it is true, denied it stoutly, and the English royalists tried to accept the denial. The Irish ones knew better. Ormond, whose own honour was untouched, did what he could to save his king's. The Confederates, however, admitted it openly, and Glamorgan, after suffering a short and purely fictitious imprisonment, remained in Ireland to carry out his master's orders.

The already crowded confusion of the scene there had lately been added to by a new actor. Rinucini, Archbishop of Fermo, had been despatched by Pope Innocent X. as his nuncio, and at once threw himself into the struggle. To him it narrowed itself to one point. The moment, he felt, had now come for the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in Ireland, and if possible for its union with one of the Catholic Powers of Europe, and in order to achieve this object, his great aim was to hinder, if possible, anything like a reconciliation between the Catholic insurgents and the king.

Meanwhile, peace had been made in England. Charles was a prisoner, and the final acts of that drama in which he plays so strangely mixed a part were shortly to be enacted. In Ireland there was no pretence at peace. On the contrary, it was only then that hostilities seem really to have been carried on with vigour. At a battle fought upon June 4, 1646, near Benturb, Owen O'Neill had defeated Munroe and his Scottish forces with great slaughter, and from that moment the whole north was in his power. In the south Rinucini was rushing from town to town and pulpit to pulpit, fiercely arousing all the Catholic animosity of the country against both English parties alike. In this he was supported by Owen O'Neill, who, with his victorious army, hastened south to meet him. Together the chief and the legate marched in September of the same year into Kilkenny; took possession of the Council Chamber; flung the Moderates assembled there, including old Lord Mountgarret and the rest of the Council, into prison. Ormond was in Dublin, helpless to meet this new combination. No orders came from England. The royal cause seemed to be hopelessly lost. All Ireland was swarming with the troops of the insurgents. Lord Inchiquin, who had for a while declared for the king, had now gone over to the Parliament. O'Neill and the legate's army was daily gathering strength. It needed but a little more energy on their part and Dublin itself, with all its helpless crowd of fugitives, must fall into their hands.

In this dilemma Ormond came to a resolution. To throw in his lot with Rinucini and the rebels of the north, stained as the latter were in his eyes with innocent blood, was impossible. Even had they been disposed to combine heartily with him for the royal cause he could hardly have done so; as it was there was barely a pretence of any such intention. If Charles could effect his escape and would put himself in their hands, then, indeed, they said they would support him. In that case, however, it would have been as king of Ireland rather than England. Ormond could not and would not stoop to any such negotiations. He wrote to the English Parliament offering to surrender Dublin into their hands, and to leave the country. The offer was accepted, and a month later he had relinquished the impossible post, and joined the other escaped Royalists in France.

* * *

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares